Racing teams competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including 21 from the American Le Mans Series, will be in France this weekend for Sunday's traditional Le Mans Test Day as they prepare for the June 14-15 running of the world's most famous sports...
Racing teams competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including 21 from the American Le Mans Series, will be in France this weekend for Sunday's traditional Le Mans Test Day as they prepare for the June 14-15 running of the world's most famous sports car endurance race.
Teams will practice from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and again from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. For the first time this year, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has relaxed its requirement that all entered drivers participate in the test session. This year, teams were allowed to designate two of their three drivers to participate in the session, although any driver racing at Le Mans for the first time is required to take part in the practice day.
Of the 50 selected teams, 32 were represented in the recent Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the event that opened the 2003 season for the American Le Mans Series, and at least 21 are expected to regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events in 2003. Because of the strong relationship that exists between the American Le Mans Series and the ACO, teams that regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events receive special consideration in the selection process for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Three of the invited teams received automatic berths in the 24 Hours of Le Mans due to their class wins in last year's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the final event of the American Le Mans Series season. The relationship between the Series and the ACO also includes designating the Petit Le Mans as a qualifying event for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The teams receiving automatic berths for winning at Road Atlanta last October include Corvette Racing, which has won the GTS class at Le Mans the past two seasons and will field two cars at Le Mans. Also included are Intersport Racing (LMP 675 class) and Alex Job Racing (GT class), both of which will be racing at Le Mans for the first time in 2003 and will field single-car entries.
Five teams that will regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events in 2003 have received invitations for the LMP 900 (Prototype) class, including the two-car JML Team Panoz entry (Panoz LMP01), Jim Matthews/Riley & Scott Racing (R&S MkIIIC-Yates), ADT Champion Racing (Audi R8) and the Sezio Florida Racing Team (Norma M2000-2-Ford). The class includes 16 cars.
The two factory Chevrolet Corvette C5-R machines from Corvette Racing head the 10-car GTS class. In addition to the Corvettes, other teams in the class that will run the American Le Mans Series schedule include Carsport America (Pagani Zonda GR), Konrad Motorsport (Saleen S7R) and Veloqx Prodrive Racing with a pair of Ferrari 550 Maranellos.
Fifteen cars have been invited to compete at Le Mans in the GT class, with eight of them American Le Mans Series regulars. Leading the way is The Racers Group, which won the GT class at Le Mans last year with a Porsche 91 GT3 RS. The Job team, which won the GT class team championship in the American Le Mans Series last year, will also run a Porsche, as will Orbit Racing, PK Sport and Seikel Motorsport. Risi Competizione will run a pair of Ferrari 360 Modenas at Le Mans, while JMB Racing will run a single Ferrari.
Six cars have been chosen as Reserve Cars, including second entries from Konrad Motorsport, The Racers Group and PK Sport. Five of the six Reserve Cars competed at Sebring earlier this year.
The American Le Mans Series builds its annual event schedule around the 24 Hours of Le Mans so that series teams can compete in the event. The series will resume its schedule with the Atlanta Grand Prix at Road Atlanta June 27-29.